Learn To Run Faster Now: 6 Quick Fixes
This is the second in a series about preparing for Boot Camp. Read the first article: "Prepare for Bootcamp."
Most Soldiers will tell you that running is the hardest portion of the physical fitness sessions in basic training. In basic training, everywhere you go, you will be in a hurry. Every other day, your morning physical training sessions will consist of a long run that only gets longer as the 9 weeks pass.
Running seems to be a natural movement to humans, which is why almost nobody bothers to learn how to run effectively. However, if you can apply a few simple techniques to your running style, the efficiency of your body movement can increase dramatically.
Before you even arrive at basic training, you should start a running program. Don't just go outside and run as long and hard as you can -- you will be wasting energy and time. Start a running "program," one specifically designed for basic training, much like the one in The Ultimate Basic Training Guidebook. Always try to run with a partner; it can help your motivation, and make it easier to keep pace with someone running next to you. Just make sure your partner doesn't slow you down.
Before you begin any running program, you must learn how to run properly. By practicing the running techniques outlined here, you will greatly improve your efficiency and reduce the risk of injury. You will probably find that these techniques change your stride significantly; as a result, you will literally have to think about every step you take until it becomes second nature. You are essentially teaching yourself to run, but this time, correctly. These new techniques could put stress on different muscle groups, which could result in muscle soreness until your body adapts to the new running style.
Quick Fix #1: Straight On
Run straight in a vertical alignment. Your body should be angled forward to the point where you will almost feel like falling over. Be careful not to stick your buttocks out, it will create improper balance.
Quick Fix #2: Light on Your Feet
Keep your feet on the ground as little as possible. It is common for people to run heel to toe as their foot strikes the ground. Land on the midfoot, or forefoot if possible. When you land on your heels you are placing your body's center of gravity behind you. This forces your body to push harder with every step and waste energy. You will really have to focus when applying this technique; it is the opposite way "normal" people are used to running.
Quick Fix #3: Less Bounce
Don't bounce when you run. Use your energy to create horizontal and not vertical movement. The less vertical movement you have when running, the more energy you can use to propel your body forward.
Quick Fix #4: Feet Under You
Your foot should land under your body when it strikes the ground, not in front of you. By doing this, you will ensure better leverage and balance.
Quick Fix #5: Use Those Hammies
Don't swing your legs back and forth. Instead, when your foot strikes the ground, pull your heel toward your butt by contracting the hamstring (back of leg). This technique creates a shorter leg arch so your legs will get in position faster for the next step without any wasted energy.
Quick Fix #6: Watch Those Toes
Resist the temptation to push off with your toes. By contracting your hamstring muscles (as described in quick fix #5) you will save energy for those long runs.
Again, applying these instant "fixes" to your running movement you will have a much easier time at basic training.
Mike Volkin is the author of the Ultimate Basic Training Guidebook, available at www.ultimatebasictraining.com.